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March 20, 2017


Dates: March 31, 2012

Event: 2012 Southern Equestrian Championship Match

Final Score: No. 6 South Carolina 10, No. 1 Georgia 10 (Carolina wins tiebreaker, 4,201-3,859)

Location: Bishop, Ga.

The 2016-17 season is the 20th anniversary of head coach Boo Major’s tenure at the University of South Carolina. Throughout the postseason, will look back on some of the biggest victories of Major’s career, including today’s feature, as the Gamecocks captured the final Southern Equestrian Championship in 2012.


Prior to the creation of the official Southeastern Conference Equestrian Championship for the 2012-13 academic year, the Gamecocks joined Auburn and Georgia to compete for the Southern Equestrian Championship. In the first nine incarnations of the event, head coach Boo Major and the Gamecocks had never hoisted the championship trophy, and heading into the 10th and final edition of the event, they were once again underdogs after losing three of their four regular-season meets against the Tigers and Bulldogs.

But the postseason presents an opportunity for teams to start anew, and the Gamecocks took advantage of the opportunity. At the end of the week, Carolina was a conference champion for the first time ever and perhaps most importantly, the weekend in Georgia was the impetus for the best four-year run in Gamecock Equestrian history.

Carolina dominated the third-ranked Tigers in the first round, 12-6. Carolina won four of five points in both equitation over fences and reining to set up a championship meet against host Georgia, the top-ranked team in the nation.

Georgia had lost just one home meet in the history of their program prior to March 31, 2012, and after overcoming an early Carolina lead, it did not look like the Bulldogs were in danger of a second defeat. The Gamecocks won three of the five jumping points after wins by Carolyn Curcio, Kimberly McCormack, and Katherine Schmidt, but Georgia won three of the five points in horsemanship and equitation on the flat, and they extended their lead to 10-8 with only two reiners left to compete.

The Bulldogs needed just one more point when Carolina freshman Cody McMillion entered the arena for her final reining ride of the day. Despite her youth, McMillion was up to the challenge, keeping Major’s team alive with a 140.5-139 victory.

That left the score 10-9 as Georgia’s Sami Belcher took off on the final ride of the day. Belcher needed to top Gamecocks junior Amanda Pope, who had already posted a score of 137.5. She couldn’t do it, posting a mark of 136 that left the overall score even at 10-all. Thanks to a zero score from Georgia earlier in the meet, South Carolina held a significant tiebreaker advantage, 4,201-3,859, giving Major and company their first conference crown.

South Carolina would go on to win the 2013 and 2014 Southeastern Conference titles, and they capped their run of four rings in four years with a 2015 NCEA National Championship title.


“This is a great moment for our Equestrian program. I am so proud of girls for their accomplishments all season, especially during the spring. Coach Sorrel, Coach Gwin, and myself are thrilled to see all of the girls’ hard work pay off.”– head coach Boo Major


“Thankfully before the ride, the coaches and my teammates had done their best to keep me from really knowing the potential impact my ride could have. I remember being continually told by coaches and teammates how much faith they had in me and feeling as though no matter the outcome I had 40 girls and three coaches supporting me when I walked out of the arena. The energy was high, which for some may have been stressful, but it just made me more excited for my chance to compete. Coach Sorrel joked that something about the Georgia facility lit a fire under me. I am not one to like to lose but I NEVER wanted to lose to a Georgia rider, which fueled every step of my ride. The crazy thing about our sport is that as an individual our ride is only about 4 minutes and in an atmosphere like that it seemed like four seconds. I remember going through my plan that I had made with Coach. I don’t remember much detail about the ride, but one of the most memorable moments of my collegiate riding career occurred after. Once my ride was done and we had realized we won, our captain, Maggie Fortune, found me and hugged me crying. That was the moment that I realized we had won.”

“As a team we had so much preparation and planning that went in to the weeks before the championship that I think we all really did realize what we had just done. We had done what everyone thought was impossible: beat Georgia at home at the Championship. I do not think that we had any idea what we had just accomplished would spiral into four of the greatest years in South Carolina Equestrian history. Those four years will always be engrained in my being. From winning in 2012 to walking out of the Waco arena a National Champion my senior year in 2015.”Cody McMillion

“We weren’t expected to win, but I look at the leadership we had. We had some great leadership. These girls were going to get it done. When we beat Auburn, the confidence was there. They felt like they had an opportunity, and we certainly had the riders to get the job done. It was more of a mental game at that point ââ’¬” were they intimidated to be at the University of Georgia competing against the University of Georgia for the Southern Equestrian Championship? And they were not intimidated in the least. It really was a fun day. Our girls were very determined, and they would not take no for an answer.”– Coach Major